What Came First, Drugs Or Human Nature?

Forrest Johnson

An international commission looking at the results of the decades long War on Drugs has recently concluded that it has been a costly and miserable failure.

This is another of those issues where I long ago scratched my head and wondered if everybody was really that dumb to think a society could simply drag out a policy that flies in the face of human nature.

Human nature has proven we are creatures that seek certain things. Marijuana, whiskey, tobacco, chocolate, Big Macs. Human nature also seems determined to set rules about certain “harmful” commodities while providing exemptions for a whole lot more. What’s worse, a boozer or the farmer that lays down a toxic pesticide. What’s worse, a marijuana smoker or a fast food junkie or the notion that we can have cheap nuclear power as long as you don’t add in the long term consequences of radioactive waste?

What’s worse, tobacco or war?
We are a species full of great irony.

The war on booze in this country created a whole batch of moonshiners and gangsters.

The war on drugs has created a criminal class that has now swallowed up whole cities and caused the deaths of tens of thousands in Mexico.


Still, the greater authorities insist with that Calvinistic fervor that we are winning that war.

Again, there is this belief or ignorance that we can simply continue with policies that go squarely against human nature.

People are going to do things that others deem harmful. Is smoking marijuana worse than leaving your family and job believing the world is going to end?

I still haven’t quite figured out how thinking people can actually watch the carnage caused by Mexican drug cartels and ignore the fact that they are producing products that are sought after by Americans. The appetite for illegal substances won’t be stymied by slogans like “Just Say No” or programs such as D.A.R.E. Isn’t there a saying that going crazy is doing the same thing over and over again while hoping for a different result?

Are we that crazy to believe any culture can truly ignore human nature?

The notion that you can stop harder drug use through criminalization is also fraught with irony. I’m not sure that you simply hand out cocaine to addicts without some measure of rehabilitation as part of the cure. Methamphetamine, that concoction of Drano and other odd household chemicals, is surely a way to waste a life quickly. I’m sure that stuff came into being as a way around the costs and availability of other drugs like cocaine, heroin and amphetamines. Some clown figured out a way to mix a bunch of toxic substances together cheaply and get high.

The issue to me isn’t simply the drug, it’s the nature of the person who seems destined to find some form of altered reality, no matter if its criminal or not. It’s the reality of being human.

In my mind, a whole host of non-prescription and prescription drugs should be tossed down the drain for the good of society. We take pills. We hope for a cure. Go take a pill.

We legalize gambling. Gambling causes problems. Gambling creates tax revenue.

We won’t legalize marijuana. Hemp, that sober grandparent of marijuana, is stigmatized the same way yet it could provide enough fiber to shift biofuels away from subsidized corn ethanol and perhaps ease the grip of big coal and big oil just a little bit. You can grow hemp in a parking lot, the stuff is that hardy. And it grows without need of pesticide or chemical fertilizer.

No, for some shortsighted reason we just won’t have that discussion, most likely because it would then involve the question of legalizing marijuana. Is being a worrywart or closed-minded as bad as smoking marijuana?

The family farm could be producing marijuana and tax revenues in this country instead of producing drug cartels and prison inmates through the failed drug policies that date back to the thinking reminiscent of the Dark Ages.  

The way I look at it, everybody has their dependence.

What came first, drugs or human nature?